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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

I am considering buying a 2004 Honda Odyssey EX-L with 63,000 miles from a private seller. I am test driving this vehicle later today and if that test passes, will take it into my mechanic (Japanese Specialist) for an inspection.

If all of that passes, should I consider buying the car? I'll be honest, the transmission issues I've read about are scaring me. I love the Odyssey but am concerned I'll buy something to only have to turn-around and dump 4k~ or so in fixing the transmission (and even then, it may go out again).

Kelley Blue Book puts the private seller price somewhere between high 11s (for good condition) to low 13s (for excellent condition). Seller is asking high 12s before any negotiations. Assuming it is in good to excellent condition - is the KBB fair in your eyes or an over/under estimate?

We're buying a larger car because we simply have to. We have most of the money saved up and simply can't afford a new car right now. That being said, it's important we get something that will be trouble free for the next several years and reliable past that. We drive our cars until they die usually... is this a good candidate or should we look elsewhere?

Also, does anyone have any statistics of what percent of 2004 Odysseys tranny's go out early? Is it 5%? 10%? 25? more?

Thanks so much!
 

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i have a 2004 with 194k on the original tranny. The only issue i have had is with clogged EGR valve at 165k. Had to replace the rear springs and shocks and 190k as it was starting to sag. Many of the later 04s had the internal tranny fix as opposed to the oil injector that was put in due to a recall.

The van is pretty easy to work on in terms of fluid changes and spark plug changes. The only big ticket item you will need to do is the timing belt and water pump at either 105k or 7 years. See if the timing belt has been done if not- then budget that to be done as that van will be coming on 7 years. Price for timing belt and water pump can range anywhere from 500 - to 900.

Just my 2 cents
 

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I read all the trans issues here after I bought mine at 58K.
I added a trans cooler ment for towing (but i don't tow) and started changing the trans fluid at 25K intervals at the dealer.
So far at 127K, the tranny's been fine.
It looks like others on this forum have had the same results with agressive maintenence and a cooler too.
YMMV

BTW, how are you going to get accurate statistics on the trannys that DIDN'T fail??
Usually people post to a forum like this, only if they had problems.
 

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These forums are awesome but dang! The tranny stuff is scaring me too. I bought my 2004 with 105K on it in EXCELLENT condition. I put about 50K on it in about a year and a half and still runs great. I just did a tranny flush at my honda dealership and asked thim if I should install a trans cooler since I was purchasing some jet skis. The reply was no you should be fine. The jet skis are probably just under 2 k LBS. Should I install a cooler on the 04? When did Honda step it up and fix the tranny issues?
 

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The jet skis are probably just under 2 k LBS. Should I install a cooler on the 04? When did Honda step it up and fix the tranny issues?
A cooler is a good idea on ANY car or truck if towing.
It certainly wouldn't hurt to have a cooler trans.

Did they fix the tranny problems?? I think they're still living in de Nile.

Search this site to see if 04 still had problems, I've seen lots of 03 and earlier that still did.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi All,

Thanks for the info, I really appreciate it. A few additional questions:

1) I believe Honda recommends that the timing belt and water pump are changed every 105k miles or 7 years, whichever comes first. Is this a real milestone to go by or can you SAFELY be liberal with it? Also, my mechanic made a comment that generally, these two items are always changed together due to their location in the engine. Is that true? What is the going rate for this type of work?

2) If #1 is a "yes" and the seller hasn't made those repairs yet, does "used car etiquette" typically say a seller should fix/adjust price accordingly? I'm really curious what is the norm here. Obviously, wear and tear is to be expected to minor degrees, but what about a major maintenance item that is due?

3) What do you all think about aftermarket auto warranties? Are they worth it? How much do they cost? Who are the most reputable companies?

4) I live in the NW where temperatures are usually always cool and summers are short and temperate (most of the time). However, there is some steeper terrain around. We also will generally not be towing something.... do you all still recommend a tranny cooler?

5) My mechanic called Honda for me and gave them the VIN for the car. Honda said that this car was part of the recall for 2004s and that it was serviced accordingly. What exactly did they do here? Honda was a bit ambiguous.

Thanks again!
 

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We had a 2004 we bought new, and traded in last year at 104k miles for a 2011. It was a great van. My biggest concern about your van is the low mileage. How do they explain that and can you verify it another way, maybe through maintenance records?

1. I'd get them done together, and $800 to $1,000 should do it at a dealer.

2. The timing belt replacement may be a reason he is selling and he just hoped you would not notice. I would want the price to drop $500 to $750 for that.

3. An aftermarket warranty is going to be very expensive. I am not a fan of them myself.

4. No answer for you here.

5. They put in a cooling jet, and to double check, if you see that there is no place to add tranny fluid, then they did the fix. They put the new item in that hole so tranny fluid has to be added in the dipstick hole. You can do a search here to see how you will add tranny fluid.

Good luck. Hope it works out for you. Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We had a 2004 we bought new, and traded in last year at 104k miles for a 2011. It was a great van. My biggest concern about your van is the low mileage. How do they explain that and can you verify it another way, maybe through maintenance records?

1. I'd get them done together, and $800 to $1,000 should do it at a dealer.

2. The timing belt replacement may be a reason he is selling and he just hoped you would not notice. I would want the price to drop $500 to $750 for that.

3. An aftermarket warranty is going to be very expensive. I am not a fan of them myself.

4. No answer for you here.

5. They put in a cooling jet, and to double check, if you see that there is no place to add tranny fluid, then they did the fix. They put the new item in that hole so tranny fluid has to be added in the dipstick hole. You can do a search here to see how you will add tranny fluid.

Good luck. Hope it works out for you. Tom
Thanks! On the mileage, the current owner is a stay at home who has used it normally over the past 2 years. She said she bought it private seller from another family who used it minimally. The odometer readings on the carfaxes seem to show a steady, but slow history. Is this a good guide to use?

#2 -- they say the reason they are selling is because of an international move. I inspected the car at their house and it appears this is the case. Hopefully so.

#5 -- What does a cooling jet that is different than a tranny cooler? Does it actually do anything to add confidence to the vehicle or is it basically a bandaid that does nothing?

Thanks!
 

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The cooler would be for the entire transmission, whereas the recall was gear specific, I believe. We had no transmission issues before or after the recall work was done. Here is some info re the recall:

NHTSA Campaign Number: 04V176000 Home | National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Manufacturer AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO.
Recall Date: 04/15/2004
Potential Number Of Units Affected: 1099796

Description POWER TRAIN:AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
Summary ON SOME MINI VANS, SPORT UTILITY AND PASSENGER VEHICLES, CERTAIN OPERATING CONDITIONS CAN RESULT IN HEAT BUILD-UP BETWEEN THE COUNTERSHAFT AND SECONDARY SHAFT SECOND GEARS IN THE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION, EVENTUALLY LEADING TO GEAR TOOTH CHIPPING OR GEAR BREAKAGE.
Consequence GEAR FAILURE COULD RESULT IN TRANSMISSION LOCKUP, WHICH COULD RESULT IN A CRASH.
Remedy ON VEHICLES WITH 15,000 MILES OR LESS, THE DEALER WILL UPDATE THE TRANSMISSION WITH A SIMPLE REVISION TO THE OIL COOLER RETURN LINE TO INCREASE LUBRICATION TO THE SECOND GEAR. ON VEHICLES WITH MORE THAN 15,000 MILES, THE DEALER WILL INSPECT THE TRANSMISSION TO IDENTIFY GEARS THAT HAVE ALREADY EXPERIENCED DISCOLORATION DUE TO OVERHEATING. IF DISCOLORATION EXISTS, THE TRANSMISSION WILL BE REPLACED IF DISCOLORATION IS NOT PRESENT, THE DEALER WILL PERFORM THE REVISION TO THE OIL COOLER RETURN LINE. THE RECALL BEGAN ON APRIL 21, 2004, FOR PILOT, ODYSSEY, AND MDX OWNERS. OWNERS OF THE ACCORD VEHICLES WILL START RECEIVING LETTERS ON JUNE 28, 2004, AND ON JUNE 29, 2004, FOR OWNERS OF THE TL AND CL VEHICLES. OWNERS SHOULD CONTACT HONDA AT 1-800-999-1009 OR ACURA AT 1-800-382-2238.
 

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One other thought is to have your mechanic look to see if the motor mounts are okay, especially the upper passenger side one (the material inside the round piece of steel can even split, and there are pictures elsewhere in this forum) and the lower front mount, which has a vaccum tube running to it and it can leak). Just something he might not consider.
 

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Just purchased on 04 Ody with 103k a couple of months ago. Car runs great. I got it below KBB (still has valid aftermarket warranty) because owner purchased another vehicle and didn't want to bother with the timing belt job.

If you are somewhat mechanically handy and have a friend who's done a timing job before you might be able to do it yourself and save $500.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks all for the great info.

We're having it inspected next week and I'd like to have a clear and concise list of things I want to make sure the mechanic inspects that are particular pain points for an 04 odyssey.

So...

Motor Mounts

Transmission (they won't take it apart, just a test drive + fluid check. Anything else they can check for this type of inspection?)

Timing Belt/Water Pump (can this even be checked without taking the whole thing
apart?

Anything else?
 

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The previous replies sound like good advice to me.

Regarding the carfax -- the big red flags there would be any indication of an accident or problem with the title. If mileage has progressed slowly but steadily, guess it just hasn't been driven that much. You probably asked the current owner for service records - hopefully they've been changing the oil regularly despite not reaching the mileage.

Regarding the trans -- try to find out if the fluid has been changed yet. On my 03 the first change was at 45k, don't know about 04. If no records there may be a sticker under the hood somewhere. If not, that would be my first course of action in addition to the timing belt/water pump. Also ask the mechanic if the fluid smells "burnt" to him, that's can also be a sign of trouble.

FWIW - the MSN Auto page shows 2004 as the best of 99-04 series on reliability (especially trans)

The price sounds a little high to me, especially if you have to put $1000 into it right away, Edmunds has it at $10200 private party retail in clean condition, at least for my area. Maybe compare the specs for clean condition to what you are actually seeing (tire condition, dents/dings, interior condition etc.)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The previous replies sound like good advice to me.

Regarding the carfax -- the big red flags there would be any indication of an accident or problem with the title. If mileage has progressed slowly but steadily, guess it just hasn't been driven that much. You probably asked the current owner for service records - hopefully they've been changing the oil regularly despite not reaching the mileage.

Regarding the trans -- try to find out if the fluid has been changed yet. On my 03 the first change was at 45k, don't know about 04. If no records there may be a sticker under the hood somewhere. If not, that would be my first course of action in addition to the timing belt/water pump. Also ask the mechanic if the fluid smells "burnt" to him, that's can also be a sign of trouble.

FWIW - the MSN Auto page shows 2004 as the best of 99-04 series on reliability (especially trans)

The price sounds a little high to me, especially if you have to put $1000 into it right away, Edmunds has it at $10200 private party retail in clean condition, at least for my area. Maybe compare the specs for clean condition to what you are actually seeing (tire condition, dents/dings, interior condition etc.)
Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it.

Is that edmund's price for the EX-L or just base? If it is the EX-L, why the price difference with KBB? Is KBB or Edmunds the better guide to go by?
 

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Is that edmund's price for the EX-L or just base? If it is the EX-L, why the price difference with KBB? Is KBB or Edmunds the better guide to go by?
I had picked "EX 4dr Minivan w/Leather". You need to run it yourself to see a number adjusted for your area and any other options I might not be aware of. 2004 Honda Odyssey EX Prices with Options

Dunno where they get their data from, but in my experience KBB is usually a little higher than Edmunds, so "better" depends on whether you are buying or selling ;)
 

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I have a 2004 exl with 115,ooo miles and it has been a good van. Replaced the motor mounts and stereo (expensive) and a few minor items but no trouble with the tranny. I installed an aftermarket tranny cooler because I tow a lot, probably 20.000 miles worth sometimes through mountains etc. Also live in Fl so heat is a consideration. If I did not tow I would not bother w the cooler.

You have to remember that people who post here are much more likely to report serious issues ie tranny. The incidence of tranny issues is much less for 2004 than it is for earlier years.

Having said that stuff I do have a recent issue that I have not resolved and it is a drop in gas mileage. I normally get 24 -25 highway but recently it is down to 20.6. Not sure why and it runs perfect so there is nothing obviously wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks all for the info, I really appreciate it.

It seems we're down to our final decision now. We're considering these two options:

1) 2004 EX-L with Leather, DVD, power-doors, etc. 65k~ miles for approximately $12,500.00. (Original tranny but honda recall has been formed. Still original timing belt and water pump and engine mounts).

2) 2008 LX with leather 18k miles for 20k. Still has the remainder of the power-train warranty left.

While we like the features, reliability/performance/safety is more important. Which would you choose and why? The idea of saving some money on the 04 is nice, but is it worth the "risk?" Are we just being over-paranoid about these 04 issues? Or is the extra 7.5k worth the reliability of an 08 with those super low miles?
 

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IMHO: if I'm spending up around 20K, I'd be saying, why not just go the extra mile and get a brand new LX without leather? Then you know it's a good car.
 

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I vote for option 2 over 1, but I am with yeoldeoddy, see what kind of deal you can get on a brand new LX before buying the 2008 LX.
 
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